Friday, May 31, 2013

RECIPE BOOK: Snickerdoodle Blondies

Today's recipe comes from a client at the gym.  After talking about one of my attempts at the Black Bean Brownie which as of this post is still in the development stages, she offered a recipe for Blondies that she had been tweaking.  I took and made one small tweak and personally LOVE it! 

If you know Snickerdoodles, then you know that it has to be based on Cinnamon.  I'm also betting that there's an easy Snickerdoodle cookie recipe not far off from this. 

Enjoy!!


INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup pumpkin, pureed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 (one 15oz. can) cup chick peas (garbonzo beans)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Place all Blondie ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth
- Spray an 8x8 baking dish with a healthy, non stick oil
- Spread blondie batter evenly in dish
- Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
- Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes
- Storage tip – Place brownies in a sealed-tight container and store in the refrigerator.  However, the best taste is at room temp, so let them warm back up prior to serving.

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Questions
1.  Don't lie.  Who knew what a Snickerdoodle was without clicking on the link?
I had to look it up!

2.  What's your preference - Brownies or Blondies?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

TTT: Road ID, Ideal Jobs, and Taper!

Road ID

I finally decided on color for my new Road ID Sport Band.  Red.

Too bad the red band is out of stock until June 10th (post Rev3)!  So it was onto my second choice, sticking with yellow!


And with a new band, I get lots of discount codes!!  Below are the codes that are valid for $1 off any Road ID order.  If you've debated getting one of these essentials of endurance sports, this is the time to do it!

ThanksKurt27015948  (Can be used 20 times through June 19th)
TAF8WW2GWY  (Valid on orders of $10 or more)
TAFT7ATVCM  (Valid on orders of $10 or more)
TAFBCEQRD7  (Valid on orders of $10 or more)
BG9942  (Expires 12/31/14)


The Best Job In The World

As we all know, the best job on planet Earth is held by the Weatherman.  You can be wrong most of the time, change your mind every time you open your mouth, and everyone makes excuses for you.  No one else gets that kind of leniency!!

Below is the 10-Day forecast (LEFT) and 5-Day forecast (RIGHT) for the Quassy race this Sunday.


I had braced myself for a hot race with no rain.  Now the chance of rain keeps creeping up!  At least the precipitation is bringing the forecasted high down. 


Taper!

This is the best part of the entire season!  It would not be as awesome as it is without the punishing workouts in the base, build, and other sections of training, but what could be better than your training schedule telling you to take a nap and eat.  If only I could do that all year round and be in as good of shape. 

On top of that, it is mentally satisfying seeing my comfortable paces come down.  The other day I did a 3 mile run that I usually can do at an easy 7:00 pace or push to close to 6:00 if I REALLY want to.  I ran it comfortably and hit a 6:40 pace.  It certainly brings my hopes up for race day!!

But all good things must come to an end.  The week post-Rev3 will be a transition and then a rather ramped re-build period before IMLP training camp three weeks post-Rev3, HITS North Country 4 weeks post-Rev3, and the next A Race, IMLP 8 weeks post-Rev3.  So I'll look forward to 6.5 weeks post-Rev3 when I re-enter the taper period; as long as the build goes the way I'd like. 


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Questions
1.  Do you have a Road ID?  Which kind and what color?
I've had a Sports Band since 2011 in purple and yellow.  Red is up next once they're in stock when I need a replacement.  I'm debating switching to the Elite though.

2.  What do you think the best job in the world is?  How far out do you consider the forecast dependable?
I admit I've got a pretty awesome job!  And I usually consider a three day forecast relatively dependable.  Gotta wait 'till Friday.

3.  What's your favorite part of the training season?  Is it base, build, the race itself, the off-season, or something else?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kickstart Endurance

Where do you get your nutrition?!

Do you pick it up at the local bike or running store?  
Do you get it at REI?  
Is it shipped from online stores?  
How many different places do you have to go to?

How awesome would it be to have one single place to get EVERYTHING?!  No more getting your drink here and your gels there, your bars over here, and then having to make one last stop for the extras that no one else seems to carry.


Your wish is Kickstart Endurance's command!

Kickstart Endurance is a one stop shop for everything endurance athletes need before, during, or after races for nutrition. 

And I'm not just saying all of this because I want selfless promotion.  I know what it's like to have to get my gels from the local bike shop, my bars from the running store, and then my sports drink from a second bike shop.  It's annoying!!  So over the next few weeks I will be reviewing not only Kickstart Endurance's website and offers, but also a mix of their products.



That's right!  They sent me an array of the products they offer for the endurance athlete (minus a taste of supplements since I don't use any).  So here's what I'll be writing about...

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
Quest Peanut Butter & Jelly Protein Bar
Pocket Fuel Coconut Cherry
Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink
Shower Pill - The Athletic Body Wipe
Osmo Active Hydration Drink - Blackberry
Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer - Acai Berry
Saquito Energy Mix - Vanilla Goji
Picky Bar - Need for Seed
Mazama Bar - Wild Berry


With Rev3 Quassy coming up this Sunday, I'm reluctant to start adding anything new to my daily routine, so as of the race finish on Sunday, testing time will commence!  I'm excited!!

And if you haven't checked it out already, head over to Kickstart Endurance to see what they have.  I would bet you they have everything you need!

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Questions
1.  Where do you get your nutrition?

2.  Have you tried or regularly use any of the above products?
I had heard and seen a few of the products before, but have not tried them yet, so I'm excited to be able to branch myself out a bit. 


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cell Phones At The Gym

WARNING:  I'm going to rant for a bit here.  
Feel free to skim through the bold headlines 
and ignore the frustration I've directed out to the interwebs.

Are you attached to your cell phone?!

Be honest.  Do you check it every 20 minutes?  Do you feel or hear phantom rings and rush to see who texted you or 'liked' your facebook status update?  Do you feel naked if you accidentally leave your phone at home?

I admit that I check my phone often.  I don't like that I do, but I find myself hitting the button on the side to see if I have any messages WAY too often.  I have accidentally left my phone at home, but I don't feel odd about it.  In actuality, I feel a little freedom when I do it.  However, that's not the same for everyone.

I don't know if it is simply my recent attention to the matter or if it really is something happening more often, but one very big pet peeve of mine is when we let cell phones interrupt what's going on right in front of us.  Have you ever been out to dinner or even having dinner at home with family or friends and someone is constantly texting on their phone?  It's so annoying!!  But there's an even bigger pet peeve of mine...

Cell phones at the gym.

He is judging you right now!

I work at a gym, so you'd expect me to see a lot more things than the typical gym-goer.  However, I can't imagine that you haven't seen it yourself if you've stepped inside a gym any time in the last year.  Phones are now our means of calling someone, our music players, our cameras, our connection to the internet and all it's glory, and so many other things that I simply don't comprehend.

I still have a flip phone,
so I honestly don't know what half of what your smart phone is capable of.

I can understand if you set it to Airplane Mode and simply use it as an mp3 player.  Sure!  But do you really need to text while working out?  Is it imperative that you make that call to your buddy about next week's plans for the football game?  Do you not care that probably half the people around you are judging you right now about how you're loudly analyzing last night's episode of The Voice?

I don't want to hear your argument with your significant other.  I don't care to know about last night's crazy party.  And I don't want you taking up a machine if all you're using it for is a seat in order to text faster.

On top of all of that, the people with cell phones are always, always, ALWAYS getting less out of their workout.  Those doing cardio have to decrease the resistance as to not disturb their ability to text rapidly.  Those on weights are taking more rest than they need.  AND you're annoying...  everyone... around... you!

Put the phone in your locker
and get your F*&#*# workout done!!

Or... stay home.  Your choice.

The worst is when I have people in class that insist on checking their phone in between sets.  I will call you out EVERY single time you do it.  Sure, I have a few mothers who I don't berate because they have young kids who might call with an emergency.  That's understandable and they don't do anything beyond check the phone when it rings.  But if you're texting during my class, I reserve every right to make a very loud mockery of you in front of not only the class, but the staff, the entire gym, and now the interwebs. 

I know that with the fantastically crazy speed of the 4G LTE and whatever letters are involved network, we can browse, upload, download, share, and text/talk with previously unfathomable limits and speeds.  But isn't there a point when you can simply unplug and leave your social network and texting connection out of reach? 

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Questions
1.  Do you carry your cell phone at the gym?
Please tell me you don't.

2.  Does people's attachment to their cell phone annoy you?  

3.  Does anyone have a flip phone out there?
I can't be the only one living in the stone age.  But I will admit that most people respond with "They still make those?" when they see my phone.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Rev3 Quassy Goals & Predictions



One week to go! 

This will be my second year at the Rev3 Quassy Half.  Last year was my first time racing Quassy and was not the best of experiences.  But after some focused recon this time around and a vastly superior base training, I am determined to improve my previous weaknesses. 

Those weaknesses include sub-par bike nutrition due to my slippery fingers, faulty course knowledge, and simple inexperience on such a technical and demanding course.  While I am going into this years race with an improved plan, we all know that race day could turn out a million different ways. 

Looking Back at 2012
  • The bike was my downfall.
    • I dropped nutrition
    • I had quad cramps as of mile 30
    • I felt drained in the last 8 miles of the bike which ate away at my mental game
  • In 2012, I fell apart at mile 7 and severely at mile 11 of the run, but otherwise am proud of my performance. 

Looking Back at 2013
  • My swimming is stronger this year despite one month less total time in the water
    • I have been swimming an average of 3000 more yards per week than this point in 2012
    • I have been swimming faster intervals than 2012
    • I have been swimming faster distance tests (500, 1000, 1750) than 2012
  • I have a better cycling base and specific race recon to rely on
    • I have logged nearly double the number of miles so far this year than 2012
    • I only had 1 ride over 40 miles at this point in 2012; I've done 6 in 2013
    • I've ridden the entire Quassy bike course three times in the last month.
  • My running has a massively larger base, but a questionable current status due to injury
    • I have close to twice the number of miles on my legs this year than 2012
    • I took 4 weeks off of running due to a calf injury in early April
    • I have a lot more experience and base to rely on, but it could be undermined by the injury and physical limitations. 
    • I've run the entire Quassy run course once so that I will not be surprised or misled on race day concerning how far it is to the next turn, how far I have left, or when/where to push or hold back.  
Looking Ahead to Quassy 2013

The following are my goals for next week's race in order of biggest dream to final default.

A) Finish the race in 4:50
B) Finish in under 5:00
C) Finish the bike in under 2:55 feeling energetic, having followed my nutrition plan to a T, and have a solid sub 8:00 pace run. 
D) Feeling the bike with an energetic, non-drained feeling and have a consistent run without digging until the final 4 miles.
E) Finish without any calf issues or other injuries
F) FINISH

Nutrition Goal:
  • Take one gel 15 minutes before the swim
  • Take another gel just after starting the bike.
  • On the bike, finish one full bottle of 2.5 scoop Hammer Perpetum and a Clif gel every 30 minutes.  Additional water consumption will depend upon weather and perceived exertion.
  • On the run, take Gatorade at every station whether it's a sip or gulp and take a gel at mile 3, 6, and 9, taking a full mile or more to consume it


I will admit up front that the initial goal of 4:50 will require an amazing day with all the right twists of fate.  I'm not saying it's impossible, but that my data doesn't exactly support it happening.  However, I had a surprise performance at the Hyannis Marathon this past February, so there's always the possibility that it could happen here too. 

My B Goal is what I've calculated as a well within reach time given an ability to roll with the day's punches.  Below are my predictions for the B Goal.

LEG            2012                           2013

SWIM:      0:32:45 (1:33/100 yd)      0:32:00 (1:31/100 yd)
T1:             0:01:44                          0:01:00
BIKE:        2:57:27 (18.95 mph)         2:48:00 (20 mph)
T2:            0:01:16                          0:01:00
RUN:         1:48:31 (8:17 pace)          1:38:15 (7:30 pace)

FINISH:      5:21:44                          5:00:15

And since I've spent so much time mapping my performance on the bike course, I will be keeping track of my performance by the sections I previously created.  Below are the goals I have for the various sections of the bike course according to my B Goal.

BIKE           Recon           Goal

Section 1:     0:53:49          0:51:00
Section 2:     0:17:22          0:17:00
Section 3:     0:29:09         0:28:00
Section 4:     0:33:51          0:31:00
Section 5:     0:43:12          0:41:00

TOTAL:       2:57:23          2:48:00


If come race day I find myself out of the water and to the end of Section #1 faster than expected, it will come down to how I feel.  I don't want to over extend myself early in the race as it seems I did in 2012 and blow up.  However, if I feel good and my pace doesn't feels comfortable, I will not hesitate to take advantage of the adrenaline rush and shoot for Goal A. 

It all comes down to perceived exertion!

If I feel good on the bike or through the first half of the run, I'll hold pace. 
If I feel bad, I'll back off. 
If I feel good on the back half of the run, I'll push it. 
If I feel bad, I'll do whatever I can to hold pace.

Beyond Goal B, I would simply like to see my bike time come down due to the recon trips that I've done.  Every scientist would like to know that their data come to mean something and to know what that meaning and significance is.  And I would like to go into the rest of the season with the confidence that my calf injury is behind me.

My ultimate fear is that my calf gets re-injured or I figure out that it's not fully healed.  If that happens, I have a poor history or pulling back out of self-preservation which could risk a lot of upcoming races.  But there's no use in negativity; I'm going into this with optimism and as much of a coach's mentality as possible; hence the extremely detailed race day goals. 

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Questions
1.  How detailed do your race day goals get?  Does the detail increase or decrease based on whether a race is an A, B, or C priority?
I don't get detailed at all.  =P  Ok, I'm a bit OCD about numbers.  But it's helped me improve, so I'm not hard on myself for it.

2.  Do you use numbers in your training/racing?  HR, power, cadence, GPS pace, etc.
I have a bike computer and a wrist watch for splits.  No extra data for me though I'd love to have a GPS watch!!

3.  How do you feel your race day performance compares to the immediately prior training level?
Are you able to accurately predict a race performance based on your training time/pace?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

RECIPE BOOK: Portabello Mushroom Soup



Today's recipe comes as an adaptation of Paula Deen’s Smokey Portobello Soup.  It is incredibly simple and quick to make and if you like mushrooms as much as I do, it's so freakin' delicious!!!

** I will add a picture as soon as I remake the recipe.  
Every picture online makes use of the roux from Paula's recipe 
and since I didn't, that would be a vast misrepresentation. **

INGREDIENTS

3 medium Portobello mushrooms, cubed
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups vegetable broth/stoc
2 tbsp green onion, chopped
Salt


INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 2 Portobello mushrooms in a baking pan and roast them in the oven for 40 minutes. Chop the mushrooms into cubes. In a large pot, saute the onions for 5 minutes. Once onions are sauteed, add uncooked portobello mushrooms, garlic, and scallions and cook for another 2 minutes.  Once the onions are fragrant, add roasted mushrooms, and broth and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. 


NOTES

I prefer this soup with vegetable broth/stock.  However, beef broth makes it taste like a steakhouse soup, which I admit could be nice depending on what it is served with.  



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Questions
1.  What's your favorite soup?

2.  Any preference for vegetable, chicken, or beef broth/stock?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

TTT: Love Notes, Tough Mudder, & Bottle Cages

A Love Note

Every so often I find my tastes change and I can't stand my current gel dependent or simply prefer another.  This year I've gone from loving GU Chocolate Mint to preferring Clif Vanilla.  But recently, I went to restock and the LBS was out.  What do I do?!  I gave Clif Chocolate a try; not that great, but manageable.  When the Clif rep stopped by the LBS to get an order, they had me covered.

I got a FB message from one of the employees letting me know that my gels were in and when opened it up, there was a note from my beloved Vanilla.


That kind of made my day.


World's Toughest Mudder

I've never done a Tough Mudder or any obstacle course event.  Based on that fact, you might consider this a crazy leap, but I've already added the World's Toughest Mudder to my list of events I have to eventually try. 


Go watch the 2012 video.  It's amazing.  24 hours of as many laps/obstacles you can finish.  Think ultramarathon, army training camp, and wetsuit. 



Taking Suggestions for Bottle Cages

I use the Specialized Rib Cage bottle cage on my rear hydration system, but recently one of the cages broke.  It's not bad enough where it's unusable, but I wouldn't trust it in a race when I need what it's holding. 

I've asked around about other cages and everyone seems to suggest carbon cages, but everyone agrees that carbon isn't any more sturdy; it's simply lighter. 

I could get a new Specialized Rib Cage.  I could even get the carbon one for three times the price, but I'd prefer to have something I know is sturdy and strong as opposed to a few grams lighter and therefore going to save me a whole 3 seconds on my Ironman. 

Suggestions?!

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Questions
1.  When was the last time you received a love note.
Prior to this week, it was high school.  I even remember who it was from.  Don't worry - your secret is safe with me.

2.  What gel or nutrition product are you dependent on for race day?
Clif Vanilla gels and Strawberry-Vanilla Perpetum

3.  Have you ever done a Tough Mudder or obstacle course race?  How does it compare to a road race of the same distance?
I've already asked a few ultra runner buddies of mine if they'd be interested in doing the World's Toughest Mudder.  Why start simple when you can dive in head first?!

4.  What bottle cage do you use?  Any suggestions on a sturdy option that isn't steel?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Little Bicycle Home Ec

While I was out on my group ride this past Saturday, I noticed that my saddle bag was coming loose.  I use the cheap Genuine Innovations bag that I got with my original CO2 kit.  But as much as it is nothing to write home about, I have yet to find a better alternative that doesn't have a big price tag.

Last fall I purchased an LG Pro 30 Wedge saddle bag as a back up after a suggestion by a fellow triathlete.  Now that my saddle bag was falling apart, I figured it was time to break this one out and make the switch.  

Bad idea!

I'll say now that I'm glad I enjoyed Home Ec in high school as much as I did.  
I've put it to good use over the years!

After cutting - yes, cutting - my old bag off (you'll understand why later on), I took out all the gear and switched it over to the LG bag.  I don't carry a LOT of gear, but the LG Pro 30 Wedge has a longer container which made getting everything in there difficult.  Here's what I carry.

  • 1 Tube
  • 2 CO2 cartridges
  • 1 CO2 valve
  • 2 Tire levers
  • 1 multitool
I've seen people carry a lot more!  Anyways, I got all of that stuffed in there (rather tight) and then discovered I had to remove my rear hydration system.  The seat post strap is an elastic band as opposed to the typical velcro strap.  I'll admit that it's a better idea given that the velcro strap typically rubs against your bike shorts and can rip holes in them.


Once that was off and the bag was strapped on, I put the hdyration system back on and took a look at my handy work.  Ugh!



Ok, it's on.  That much is undeniable.  But it's completely inaccessible.  That'll do me a lot of good if I need anything while out riding!  And on top of it, the velcro strap that holds the bag up was just barely long enough to reach.  The bag was so full that I had to really pull on the strap to get it to reach around.




Back to the drawing board!

A) I need a saddle bag.  I couldn't simply go without one though I've only ever flatted once on this bike and it was while changing the tire at home, so maybe I'd be fine without it, but I wasn't going to chance it.

B) I can't use the new bag.  Thanks LG for a very sturdy bag that makes no use on a tri bike.  So happy I'm well past the return policy date!  </sarcasm>

C) The only other bag I have is the one I took off, but it has a rip and the velcro doesn't hold together well by any means.

Time to be a little crafty!  

I took everything off the bike; the hydration system and the new bag.  I pulled out my sewing kit - yes, I own one of those - and went to work.  I ironed a patch onto the old saddle bag to fix the rip.  I strapped the bag onto the saddle and opted to sew the velcro strap to the bag so that it wouldn't come free.  And then while I was already at it, I switched rear hydration systems; a double mount switched out for a single mount.

 



As you can tell, with the single mount Minoura rear hydration system in place, access to my gear isn't the best, but it's a whole lot better than the LG bag!  And after a short ride, I'm either going with no rear hydration or back to the double mount for Rev3 Quassy anyways.  The single is awkward to reach for and I don't need more than two bottles at a time; water in the aero bottle and frame mounted Perpetum.

This just goes to show ya'...
  • If it costs more, it's not necessarily better,
  • If it says it fits your bike, that doesn't mean it will,
  • and Home Ec comes in use in many ways!

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Questions
1.  What type of saddle bag do you use?  Is it on a road or tri bike?
I'm interested to know what other options might be good for me.

2.  What type of home ec jobs have you done to your bike?  

3.  Are you crafty?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ironman SwimSmart Initiative.

The way an Ironman swim is conducted is all about to change.  Andrew Messeck, WTC's CEO, recently described the changes as a way to curb the fear of the athletes.  I, on the other hand, think it comes out of the organizer's fear of having another swim death.  I can think of three incidents in the last year alone.  

Swim Deaths
- IM New York City
- IM South Africa 70.3
- Escape from Alcatraz

And that doesn't even touch on those that happen on the non-international level.  What about the local triathlons that you never hear about? 

There's no two ways about it, statistics show that the swim is the most deadly portion of a triathlon.  Between the adrenaline of race day, the anxiety of the race and the swim conditions, the shock at times of the water temperature, and the fact that more and more non-seasoned athletes are joining the sport causes for an increased risk of incidents in the swim.


WTC, the owner of Ironman, sat down and decided to try out a few new ideas for making the swim portion of their Ironman races more athlete friendly.  They call it the SwimSmart Initiative.   They are unveiling new swim course changes this year for five of their events; Ironman Coeur d'Alene, Lake Placid, Mont-Tremblant, Lake Tahoe, and Florida.  Here's the quick run down of the changes.

General Swim Course Changes
  • Buoys will be numbered
  • Anchored resting rafts will be strategically placed along the swim course to allow athletes to rest without disqualification

Swim Start Pilots
  • Self-seeded, out-of-water, rolling start at Coeur d/Alene & Lake Placid
  • Wave start based on age group at Mont-Tremblant
  • Self-seeded mass start by corrals at Lake Tahoe & Florida

These changes are meant to be a test, to see what works, what doesn't, and how the athletes like them.  Andrew Messeck says that they'll take the opinions of the athletes (and I have to assume the statistics of how many people get pulled, use the rafts, etc) and make a decision at the end of the season as to how to change the swim more permanently. 

Ironman Mass Start
As a swimmer, I've never really feared the swim.  I've even said that my lack of fear in water is probably unsafe.  However, I will never argue for keeping my preference as a swimmer over the safety of those who are not as strong.  If they come back and say that you can swim with a buoy if you'd like, then I'll start speaking up.  But if you want to stop and rest on a raft, you should be able to.  If you feel safer starting amongst 2-300 people in your general area instead of 1500, then that's a smarter way to race.  Granted, those people should be at the fringe of a mass start to begin with, but again, I'm not going to argue it. 

I do hope that Ironman sees a positive result from the initiative and finds a much more athlete-friendly swim start that will also be accepted by the more competitive members of the group.  My vote is for the wave start.


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Questions
1.  What are your feelings about the swim start?  Does it scare you?  Do you get anxious with all the arms swinging and churning water?  Or is it just another day at the races?
As a swimmer, it's never bothered me.  Sure, I'd like to avoid the smack to the back of the head or the unintentional punch to my back side, but I just swim a little harder and get out of the tangle.

2.  Is anyone participating in one of the above Ironman races?  
I will be at Lake Placid and I know a number of people that will be at Coeur d'Alene and Mont Tremblant.  

3.  What are your thoughts on the SwimSmart Initiative?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Quassy Recon Trip #4: All Systems Go!


Race day is in just less than two weeks and after yesterday's run, I am READY!!

After my calf injury in early April, I've been very careful about easing back into running.  Over the past three weeks, I've gotten myself back up to 4.5 miles.  But with Quassy coming up so quickly and knowing how my mind works on race day, I did not feel comfortable taking an all out risk on race day.  I needed to know if my calf could handle more mileage.

Therefore, yesterday, amidst the chilly rain, I trekked back to the Quassy course for recon trip #4.  It took some mental force, but I managed to get 16 miles in on the bike though they were quite slow given how cold the wind/rain felt when I sped up.  Then I hopped off and put my running shoes on.  My plan was to tackle the only part of the course I haven't been on this year, the upper loop of the run course.

As you can see to the right, the upper loop is the larger portion of the course.  I ran the lower loop - 4.5 miles - last week.  This week was 8.5 miles.  If I can handle that, then I feel race day is much less of a gamble. 

In the end, it was a success!! 

I made it 3 miles before I even felt tension in either calf.  Then I stopped for what is seeming to be my Quassy run tradition - a bathroom break in the woods.  Thankfully the hills weren't as bad as I remember them being and I kept a log of the course cues; where the hills are, how many there are, which ones are the worst and which to push through. 

When I got back to the car, I had been running just over an hour.

8.65 miles
1:03:59
7:24 pace

If I can hold that pace on race day, I have a pretty good chance of hitting my goal!!  I'll flush that out next week.


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Questions
1.  What's your next race coming up?!

2.  Are you a fair weather or all weather athlete?  Will you go out in the cold and rain?
Despite wanting to bail on yesterday's brick many times, I have to admit I'm an all weather athlete.  I run all winter long, rain usually doesn't stop me, though I will admit that I don't hop on the bike outdoors until it hits 60.

3.  Do you calculate out goals for your races, or do you just throw up a guesstimate goal?
For most races, I've got a spreadsheet of PR's, training times, and such to calculate my race prediction.  I'm a science geek.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

RECIPE BOOK: Pico de Gallo [vegt, gf, raw]


Do you have a party to make food for?  
Is Mexican night coming up?  
Do you just love spicy tomato foods?  

I've got your fix.  And it's 100% raw, gluten-free, and vegan friendly.


Pico de Gallo.


Now, my first question was what is the difference between pico de gallo and salsa.  My only memory of the two is that pico de gallo sometimes comes in green.  Here's what I found on the interwebs.  The main difference between salsa and pico de gallo is that the latter is raw as well as less liquidy.  Awesome, that sounds much less messy, healthier, and full of flavor.

Spice up your Mexican foods, your typical chicken dinner, or just spoonful it into your mouth!  

Enjoy!



INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups Tomatoes on the vine, chopped (3-4 tomatoes)
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt

Optional Additions

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 Chile pepper, finely diced
3 tbsp Cucumber, finely diced
1 tsp Cilantro
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper, ground

INSTRUCTIONS

Chop tomatoes into chunks discarding meat and draining liquid using a strainer if necessary.  Crush and mince garlic cloves.  Mince onion. 

Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix together.  Taste and add spices if desired.  Chill until it is time to serve.

NOTES
Use it as a dip for chips, a topping for Mexican food, or a great way to spice up a dinner (i.e. topped on lightly seasoned chicken).  

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Questions
1.  What's your preference?  Salsa or Pico de Gallo?
I'm a pico de gallo fan over here!

2.  What do you use pico de gallo for?  Bonus if it's a non-Mexican/Spanish idea!
I'm always up for new ways to use common ingredients.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

TTT: Good Food, Bad Food, & Laundry

Good Food Choices

Berries and spices that is.  

Remember the flourless pancake recipe from last week?  If you haven't tried it or bookmarked it for your next weekend brunch, I'd recommend it.  If you have tried it, then I'd suggest trying it again with a little change...

Berries!

I added blackberries (about 10) to the blender with the banana.  It was delicious!!  I can only imagine that blueberries, raspberries, or any other type of berry would be equally as great.  Plus, if you separate out the original batter, you could easily make your pancakes a rainbow breakfast; yellow, blue, purple, and red.  I'll get back to you on a green option.  Maybe even an orange.

Onto another recipe change.  Remember the Trump Turkey burgers?  I had been making them without the cinnamon for awhile, just letting the hot sauce and granny smith battle for flavor, but this past weekend I premade a batch and decided to go back to using cinnamon.  While I was at it, I took out a bunch of other spices to smell.  I ended up adding cumin and ground clover.  I took one out earlier this week, cooked it, and it was delicious!; though it could have used a bit more hot sauce.

So if you haven't tried the burgers, give cumin and clover a try.  It's quite good!

Bad Food Choices

As I've mentioned before, one of my bad food downfalls is pizza.  If I'm out on a long or just brutal workout, I'll bribe myself with pizza.  It works!!  And recently I found that Red Baron, my favorite brand of frozen pizza, has a rising crust pizza.  During Sunday's brick, I bribed myself with that, but due to my adjusted nutrition plan, I wasn't that hungry when I got home. 

When I woke up Monday though, haha...  That was a whole different story.  I had breakfast, went coaching, came home and made more blackberry banana pancakes, immediately put the pizza in, ate that, and then had a burrito and bowl of soup. 

The pizza was awesome!  Red Baron makes a really good crispy crust - now both in a thin crust and a rising crust.  However, later that day, I started feeling the sluggish effects of that food choice.  Sure, it tasted great and my body went right through it, but later Monday I was feeling slow and Tuesday once my digestive tract was back on schedule, I could tell that yet again the pizza was taking it's toll.

I can't lie.  I love pizza.  I just have to find a better alternative to my frozen Red Barons. 


Why does Laundry Day always fall on a Rest Day?

"Because you have the extra free time on a Rest Day."  Ok, sure, but there is another obvious reason.  See below!



"'Cause the bike is otherwise engaged."  Looks like the morning after of an athletic orgy.

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Question
1.  What's your favorite berry?
Strawberries are my all time favorite!

2.  Do you have a favorite spice?
Clover has been taunting me for awhile amidst the spice rack at the store. 

3.  Do you have a food you know you shouldn't have, but simply cannot deny?

4.  Where do you hang all of your athletic clothing to dry?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Euphoria!

LIVE

The past is behind you and the future will always be out of reach, so all you have is the present. Be a part of it!!

Today I went for a short run. I've done plenty of short runs before. I ran this exact route yesterday even. But today, after getting through the transition of that first mile, I was overcome with happiness. Motorists were looking at me with odd faces as I climbed a hill with a big smile on my face. I wasn't going super fast (I was actually slower than yesterday), nor was I going super far. I was just going and it made me happy.

Sure, there were "happy" chemicals coursing through me, training has me increasingly delirious during workouts, and I'm just bat sh*% crazy to begin with, but for whatever reason today's run signified a change to me. Life felt like it clicked in that moment.

Some people need a purpose. Other people need to believe in something bigger. Even more will search their entire lives for an explanation. Today, all I needed was that run. The ground beneath my feet, the air in my lungs, and the world all around me laid out like an adult playground.


Life is good.
=D

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Questions
1.  Have you ever had a euphoric moment?  
Do share!!


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Now THAT is what I'm talking about!!

Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to.
And then sometimes you get a nice little surprise!
...and a big SMILE.

I woke up early Sunday with coaching having been cancelled.  I used the time to quickly wash the bike.  With some time to pack, I was at the pool by quarter of ten and got in 2500 yards before Yoga.

On a side note...
my two yoga classes a week 
has really helped keep my legs stretched out!
Yay!

Swimming and yoga done and I was off to the Quassy course again.  Having done two recon trips breaking the bike course up into sections, it was time to tackle the course all in one swoop. 

As shown below, after the two previous trips, my best time on the course was 3:07:53, roughly 10 minutes slower than last year's race time.  As I mentioned in the last Recon report, I had hoped to make it in under 3 hours.  And since the below graph has ruined the punch line for me, I was able to dip below the 3 hours mark on Sunday.  It made for a very happy last three miles knowing I was very likely to hit my goal.  



I went out with one goal in mind, DO NOT DIG.  I wanted to see where I'd be at if I refused to really dig at any point in the race.  My hope was that by keeping it relaxed, I could spread out my energy on the hilliest course I've ever raced.  As you can tell above, that worked to bring down my time on 4 of 5 sections.  I was slower on section 3 which includes the 7 mile climb, but I felt tons better at the top of the final hill than when I dug in on the second recon trip.  

Whether it was having the day before nearly off (I did do an easy OWS on Saturday), the weather, the unintentional switch from Clif Vanilla to Clif Chocolate, or some mix, I feel fully capable of busting out a new bike PR.  Woohoo!!

And to add icing onto the cake, I went for a brick run after putting my bike away.  I ran the final 4.54 miles of the Quassy run course at a rather comfortable 7:13 pace.  I swear, I didn't know what pace I was going until I mapped out the run!  That's the bonus/downside of not having a GPS watch.  I probably would have slowed down if I knew that's how fast I was going.


P.S.   You always know when you've really worked your body when your digestive/excretory system starts acting up.  I went #2 around 5pm during the run (bonus of having a race through wooded areas), but didn't go again until Tuesday morning.  

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Question
1.  What workout has surprised you recently?  
Did you go further than you expected, faster, or just feel awesome?

2.  What's the next course you've got on the calendar to recon?
Once Rev3 Quassy is over, I'm onto IMLP and training camp is in late June.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bribery. It's ok by me!

Some people pay their local law enforcement off when they get a ticket in order to keep it off their record.  Some pay the local law makers off to keep them off their back when doing shady business.  Some pay off their teachers so they can get better grades.  I get paid off to keep things like Burpees, Jump Squats, or Spidermans out of the workouts.

That's at least what I let them think. 

This past week alone I received three edible bribes.  Chia/Flax seed cookies, cauliflower casserole, and granola.  Each of them was homemade by a member of mine.  What the intent was I can only imagine. 

The bag was full when I started.  I swear!

I know!  Bad blogger!  I only have a picture of the granola.  But in my defense, the cookies and casserole never made it to the end of the day. 


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Questions
1.  Have you ever bribed someone?

2.  Have you ever been bribed?

3.  What would you take as a bribery?
Food, money, favors, race entries?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

My 2013 Kit!


After quite the extended design period (Illustrator is one MONSTROUS program) and a good amount of time figuring out the production, I am happy to finally reveal my kit for the 2013 season.

It was ordered last week and I should have it just in time for Rev3 Quassy!  I'm super excited!!!

But now I have a problem.  

I need a new Road ID Sport Band and don't know what color to get.  I've had purple before and currently sport the yellow.  I had leaned to getting yellow again, but the kit makes me think pink or red.  Thoughts?

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Questions
1.  How often do you get a new kit / racing outfit?

2.  Have you ever taken on a project and found out it was a lot bigger than you expected?  Stories are welcome!
Just don't tell me you're a whiz at Illustrator!  It took me a long time to finally learn how to create the above proofs.

3.  What color Road ID do you think I should get?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

RECIPE BOOK: Flourless Banana Pancakes

This recipe came to me from one of my running clients who happens to eat a Paleo diet.  The idea was to make a pancake without using flour or any processed ingredients; I would have never thought it'd be so simple.  On top of that, it's so incredibly healthy AND delicious that I feel like I'm cheating on "cheat day" food. 

Flourless Banana Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe banana, blended
2 eggs
1/2 tsp Almond Extract

ADDITIONS
1 - 2 tsp ground Cinnamon
10 blackberries, raspberries, or 20 blueberries, blended
Almonds, chopped
Strawberries, fresh (garnish)


INSTRUCTIONS

Cut banana into slices and blend until smooth.  Add eggs and extract and blend well.  Add berries or spices if you'd like.  Pour into non-stick pan over low heat and top with crushed almonds.  Allow to cook for approximately 2 - 3 minutes or until solid enough to flip.  Cook for an additional minute or two and remove.

Batter makes 3-4 pancakes.  

Notes
Flavoring is 100% up to your taste and imagination.  The original recipe called for Vanilla extract, but I was out, so I went with Almond; best coincidental switch ever!


 Blueberry Banana Pancakes with Almond Extract

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Questions
1.  What's your favorite breakfast food?

2.  What do you add to pancake batter?
Fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, or something more unique?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rev3 Quassy Race Recon Trip #2

As a part of this past crazy weekend, I went out to the Rev3 Quassy bike course on Sunday and made a double loop of the middle section of the course in an attempt to compile a prediction for race day.



Thank you Town of Morris for the use of the Town Hall / Library parking lot!

This loop put me on sections 2-4 according to my course breakdown.  Below is my total course breakdown. 


Section            Round 1                       Round 2
Section 1        57:00 (17.89 mph)        58:38 (17.45 mph)
Section 2        19:07 (22.55 mph)        18:58 (22.64 mph)
Section 3        29:31 (15.42 mph)         29:09 (15.62 mph)
Section 4        37:03 (18.55 mph)        36:21 (18.90 mph)
Section 5        45:37 (19.50 mph)        44:47 (19.84 mph)

Total              3:08:18 (17.85 mph)      3:07:53 (17.89 mph)

2012 Race      2:57:27 (18.93 mph)


As you can tell, section 2 and 5 are the fastest portions of the course and compile ~21 miles.  And on the opposite side, section 3 includes a 7 mile span of six hills.  I had only remembered the course having four hills so it was fun to readjust my course perspective as I began naming the SIX hills.

Northfield St. Hills by Name
Bend Over
Into the Light
The House Doubles Down
Baby 'N a Corner
Alley-Oop
Straight Up

I'll let your imagination run with those names.

I had honestly hoped to be around last year's time, but I can't be sure how close a training day ride should be to a race day effort.  My next step is to take on the entire course at once to see if it matches up to the compiled sections and/or last year's race time.  I'd love to see the total course loop come down close to 3 hours, giving me a better chance of cutting time down on race day closer to a 2:50 or 2:45.


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Questions
1.  How close would you expect a training day ride to come to a race day time?
My money is on a better time come race day, but I'd love to have a better handle on how much difference there might be.  All thoughts are welcome.

2.  Have you ever named your rides, hills, or training areas?  Any fun names to share?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"What do you mean you don't have time?"

In talking with a friend yesterday, I mentioned being disappointed that I was unable to find time this weekend to cut my hair.  She was surprised.  "You weren't at work, so what's the excuse?"  This was my response.

Saturday
I was up at 5:40am.  Having cancelled my coaching session, I went out for a 4 mile run.  After getting home, I made breakfast, packed my bags and was off to the gym.  I did yoga at 8:30am and then swam 4000 yards (roughly 2.5 miles).  When I got home, I made lunch, laid down for a nap, and then realized it was later than I had expected.  Instead of an hour nap, I took a fifteen minute cat nap, got back up, made a second lunch, and rushed off to the local library where I spent two hours dressed as Spiderman for Free Comic Book Day.  When we finished, I called up a friend and we headed to a lake for our first OWS (open water swim).  By the time I got home, it was 7:30.  I showered, ate, and was in bed by 9pm.

Sunday
I was up by 6am and at coaching by 7am.  We finished at 9:15am and I headed home to pack my car with my cycling gear.  I went to brunch with a group I coached this past winter and worked out some details for coaching the group again this summer, fall, AND winter.  From brunch, I headed straight to the Rev3 Quassy bike course where I rode two laps of the middle 31 miles.  I got home around 6:30pm, showered, made dinner, and sat down with my laptop.  I entered all the data from my ride in an attempt to help predict my race time, overviewed the training for a client of mine, wrote a workout for Monday morning, and was again in bed by 9pm.

So when I say "I'm so happy it's Monday," THAT'S why.  Weekends are non-stop for me.

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Questions
1.  Are you happy to get to Monday or do you dread it?

2.  What did you do this past weekend?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

RECIPE BOOK: Trump's Turkey Burgers

Today's recipe comes from the one and only Donald Trump.  Ok, not really from the Trumpster himself, but from his restaurant at the Mar-A-Lago Club.  Oprah Winfrey visited once and fell in love with this recipe so much that she had to share it.  And here is my rendition.

Trump's Turkey Burger

Makes - 3 turkey burgers

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp scallion, thinly sliced
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1/2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1/2 lb. turkey breast
3 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced and grated zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch ground cinnamon


INSTRUCTIONS

Saute the scallions, celery and green apples until tender. Let cool.  
Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sauteed items and the pepper sauce, lemon juice and zest, and parsley.  Shape into 8-8 oz burger patties, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Season the turkey burgers with the salt and pepper. Place on a preheated grill for 7 minutes each side or until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
Enjoy!
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Questions
1.  What is your go to picnic or outdoor grill food item?

2.  Are you a turkey, beef, or veggie burger person?
I used to be all about the beef, but I've grown away from the taste.  I'm a big fan of turkey burgers.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

TTT: Superheroes, Cooking, and Shaving

SUPERHERO TIME!!


Yup, that's my apartment.  Don't you just love the slanted ceiling?! 

A friend of mine is the children's librarian at a local library and this Saturday is Free Comic Day as a fundraiser for the library.  As a part of the fundraiser, a number of local comic shops donated comic books to give out to the kids and my friend asked around to find some super hero costumes for people to wear and entice the kids with.  I, unfortunately, do not have a costume, but she was able to find one.  So this Saturday I will be playing the part of one Peter Parker at the local library.  A few of my clients, who are day care providers, were quite interested to know about it, but they also said that the mothers might get more entertainment than the kids.  The suit truly is skin tight!!  =/  Haha.  All in good fun!


COOKBOOK

As you know, the Recipe Book tab is underway and I've got a lot of great recipes to add; a new recipe every Friday!! 

In talking with members at the gym, I've had suggestions for a LOT of recipes, but one person recently topped the list by offering to give me a copy of her family cookbook.  Her family is big on cooking at home in order to be healthier.  They don't follow a specific diet per say, but they simply prefer home cooking over going out.  I thought it might be a nicely bound collection of a few family recipes, something short and simple.  Ho!!!!!  This is legit!!





The book has cooking references, tips, terms, sections for different recipe types, an index based on recipes, and a separate recipe based on the contributor.  It's amazing!!  Granted, it's not the most healthy food, but as she said, it'll give me a good spot to start. 

SHAVING

It's that time of year again.  The weather is picking up, the sun is out longer, and it's warming up!  I've already switched to logging 90% of my miles on the road as opposed to the trainer.  But now it's to the point of being warm enough to go with less clothing.  No more thermal arm sleeves, double layered jerseys, or leggings.  It's time to ride in summer clothes!  But with that comes the big cycling debate of shaving your legs.

Shaven leg on top, unshaven on bottom

As you can tell, I have!  Having been a swimmer through high school I was fine with the idea of shaving; it didn't seem as weird to me having done it every year.  But when I shaved last year with a straight razor I earned a whole new respect for women.  I don't know how you ladies keep up with it, let alone how you avoid getting dry, itchy legs.  So I've switched to buzzing my leg hair.  It's a whole lot easier, I still get the cooling effects, and it's less of a risk in the case I do take a spill on the bike. 


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Questions
1.  What's your favorite superhero?, and why?
Having not been a comic book kid, I would have to say (now in my adult brain looking back) that Spiderman and Batman always interested me; Spiderman because of the way he was able to get around (it's just so cool!) and Batman because he did amazing things without actual super powers.  

2.  Do you have a family cook book?, or maybe just a collection of family recipes?

3.  Men, do you shave the legs?  If so, buzzer or straight razor?  Women, do you cease shaving during the winter? (If so, I don't blame you!)


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.